Sports

Rich Olson returns to Miami to give offense ‘fresh start’

At the beginning of Friday’s press conference introducing Rich Olson as the new University of Miami offensive coordinator, it was unclear whether tight ends Coach Mario Cristobal would be leaving for the New York Jets.

Halfway through the conference, however, Head Coach Larry Coker announced Cristobal was returning, with a promotion.

Cristobal will take over as offensive line coach, a spot left vacant after the firing of Art Kehoe and three other assistants on Jan. 2.

“I live and die and breathe this place,” Cristobal said. “I felt this is a pivotal time for the University of Miami. The NFL might be part of my future one day, but it’s not today.”

A major part of Coker’s off-season responsibilities was filling the offensive coordinator void. Coker said that Olson’s knowledge of the game, people skills and modesty got him the job.

“The most positive thing to me is the way he deals with people and his relationships with players,” Coker said. “If I had been a 10-year NFL veteran coach, I would probably have come in here to tell everybody how things are supposed to be done. Rich doesn’t do that.”

Olson, who was Miami’s offensive coordinator under Dennis Erickson from ’92-’94, said he has a strong sense of the prestige of the program.

“You spend time in Michigan and you hear about UM, and you look down and shake your head,” Olson said. “I finally had to tell them, ‘Let me explain something-there’s only one UM, and that’s the University of Miami.”

In his first tenure with the ‘Canes, Olson’s offense featured a one-back set, but he said it was too early to tell if it will be utilized now.

Coker said the team plans to run an offense that’s more diverse and balanced, moving personnel and giving new looks at proven plays.

“I want a fresh start. I want those players to be a little wide-eyed, a little hungry,” Coker said.

With the new offensive schemes Coker and Olson are planning, and the youth of the offensive line, some might think it will take time for the offense to gel. But Olson said that high-profile programs like Miami don’t have the option of waiting for results.

“We open with Florida State, so it better not take a couple of games,” Olson said. “You’re at the University of Miami, you want results now, so there’s going to be results now.”

Ryan Deering can be contacted at r.deering@umiami.edu.

February 21, 2006

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